Dan Lewis

Hi, New RSS Readers!

My RSS feed numbers jumped over the last couple of days. But I don’t really have an active blog. What gives? Oh, maybe you’re looking for my “Now I Know” newsletter… awesome!

Except that there’s really no RSS feed for it.

It’s an email, once a day, M-F. Subscribe at http://dlewis.net/nik

Unintentional Humor, Facebook Recommendations Style

Go to your Facebook News Feed and you may see, in the upper right, Facebook suggests some brand Pages for you to follow.  Typically, Facebook shows two in tandem — and sometimes, the results are… well, see for yourself:

Facebook Games: Better than Facebook?

And to make matters worse, Mafia Wars isn’t even the biggest game — Farmville and Treasure Isle top it, easily.

Donuts versus Breast Cancer Awareness

At least it’s close…  I guess.

Who needs physical activity when you can sit on the couch?

There’s a “That’s What She Said” joke here.  But I don’t see it, sorry.  Feel free to leave one in the comments.

Wow, is it still 2002?

This one is shocking.  Shocking.

Noooooooooooooooo….

And Dunkin Wins Again!

Also, note that Lady Gaga is about seven times more popular than the generally well-liked First Lady.

Sounds Right To Me

I actually prefer Futurama, but accept the fact that I’m in minority.

D’oh!

On the other hand… really?

And my personal favorite

Ten Awesome Video Renditions of the Super Mario Brothers Theme Song

I found the first video tonight and watched it, kids in tow.  They loved it as much as I did, and we spent the better part of an hour watching the others found below.  Enjoy!

Violin, synced to game

Beatboxing Flute

A capella

A ruler

Two Tesla Coils

An ocarina

A really sick drum set

Stepper motors

A radio controlled toy car and a bunch of beer bottles

A cell phone

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Five Things I Learned About Transit Last Week

Last week, I wrote up

It was well received, and I’m a feedback junkie, so I’m considering making this a regular thing.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.   One hint:  I shared all of these on Twitter — so if you want to learn this things as I do, it’s best to follow me there.

* * *

1) In Hong Kong, they drive on the left.  In China, they drive on the right.  The bridge between them is TOTALLY SCARY.

Someone I follow on Google Reader shared this blog post by Jason Kottke explaining the problem.  But really, the picture sums it up:

Check out the right (closer) lane.  Watch as it dips below its starting point, coming just a few feet above the water (!).   Marvel as it passes under the previously left lane, and, effectively, flips itself into being the new left.  Gorgeous and horrific at the same time.

Update: Yeah, yeah, it’s an artist’s conception.  Still totally scary.

2) The New York City subway system accidentally renamed a station stop “FML.”

To the Internet generation, FML means something R-rated.  To the Metropolitian Transit Authority (MTA), it means the F line, M line, and L line all stop here — “here” being 14th Street and 6th Avenue.

How did this happen?  Due to service cuts and changes forced by a thinner budget, the MTA cut some lines and renamed others.  The M line now runs down 6th Avenue, and due to coloring conventions, is now orange, like the F.  (It used to be brown.)  The F and M intersect the L — which runs across 14th into Brooklyn — at 6th and 14th.  And F comes before L, so FM lead.

But the MTA is going to break convention after pictures like the one on the right popped up, surrounded by guffaws.

3) Planes sometimes run out of gas, requiring diversion to a nearby airport.

I met Michael Maney at the ReadWriteWeb Summit last week and have followed him on Twitter since.  He shared this tweet from Colleen Swanger, who I don’t know from Adam (Eve?):

Thanks @delta for running out of gas. Now my mother and I are going to miss her mother’s funeral while stuck at LGA when we should be in BDL

The rest of the story:

Seriously @delta how do you run out of gas 75 miles short of your destination?!? (@ LaGuardia Airport (LGA) w/ 21 others)

Standing outside LGA with 100 others waiting for a bus to Hartford because a @delta plane ran out of gas. Not kidding. Or they are lying.

You can read more about the flight here.   The diversion cost passengers six hours — which is ridiculous, given the fact that a bus ride from New York (where the plane landed) to Hartford (intended destination) should be about half that.  It’s mind-boggling.   How do you miscalculate the amount of fuel so badly that you end up having to land at an airport about 75 miles away?


4) There’s a secret, unused subway system underneath City Hall in Manhattan, which you can see if you stay on the downtown 6 one stop past the “last” official stop.

Around the turn of the century — the 1900s, that is — the powers that be decided that the Manhattan Main Line, now the 6 subway line in Manhattan, should terminate at City Hall.  The station, given its location and prominence, was designed to be a showcase of sorts.   But in the mid-1940s, longer trains made the station dangerous.  It was one of the least-used stations anyway, serving a mere 600 people a day, due to the proximity of the Brooklyn Bridge station just a few hundred feet away.  On the last day of 1945, service to City Hall was discontinued, and the station has been closed, frozen in time, since.

But the station is still there, and to a degree, is still used.  The last stop on the downtown 6 is Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall, and the first stop uptown is in the same place.  But the trains need to turn around — and they do so by going through the old City Hall stop.  Which means if you stay on the train, you’ll go through this station.   Which, apparently, is perfectly allowed.

But no, you can’t get out at City Hall.  There are tours of the station, and Ben Kabak of Second Ave. Sagas was lucky enough to attend one.  He gathered photos in the gallery below:

5) Speaking about Manhattan subways: are more Subway “restaurants” than subway stations in Manhattan.

I think, for a long time, I always wondered this.  Not explicitly, of course, but subconsciously.   Grub Street has done the heavy lifting and found official counts, and determined that it’s not particularly close: 171 “sandwich” shops to 147 train stops.   Brooklyn represents the city much more positively, with the trains winning, 170 to 70.

It really is too bad that Manhattan isn’t in a dead heat — that would be reason enough to open the old City Hall stop.


JustCoz: Celebrating Good

People — including organizations — respond to incentives.

But rarely do we create incentives for doing good.  Rather, we tend to create disincentives — legal liability, bad press, boycotts, etc. — for doing bad things.   We see this reflected in everyday life.  When running for political office, candidates will mention their successes, sure, but the discourse focuses on the failures of their opponents.  (Quickly: name one positive thing John Kerry or Sarah Palin did.)   Google’s informal motto, “Don’t Be Evil,” sums up the incredibly low bar of expectations from corporations while simultaneously focusing on the negative stuff they don’t do, rather than their actual philanthropic work.  And with oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, a boycott of BP makes emotional sense — but why hasn’t there been a concerted effort to patronize, as a society, the oil companies which are doing the most work (and investing the most resources) into cleaner-burning fuel alternatives?    Do you even know which company that would be?  I don’t, but I feel like I should.

We rightly place disincentives on doing evil.   But we rarely celebrate the good work done in this world.  Maybe it’s just too much work and not worth our time.  Maybe it needs to be easier.

I’ve been thinking about this problem for about a week, after synthesizing a lot what I learned from Internet Week NYC events.  I concluded that we need to make a concerted effort to celebrate the good in this world, and that Twitter makes that easy, so I registered @CelebrateGood and followed some causes.   (I am not sure yet what I want to do with @CelebrateGood yet — I haven’t even found a good icon! — but it probably won’t focus on non-profits.  I’ll outline my basic thinking in another post.)

Apparently, I’m not alone in seeing this opportunity.   This week, serial entrepreneur Jeff Pulver announced his new project, JustCoz.org.  JustCoz uses Twitter to make it easy to celebrate some of the good work which is being done in this world — and it’s fantastic.

Pulver, the founder of the 140 Characters Conference, is super-invested in the disruptive effects of Twitter and real-time engagement, so it should surprise no one that JustCoz leverages tweets — or rather, non-tweets.   Realizing that you can only share good news — retweet it, basically — when you are actually looking at Twitter, Pulver and company saw an opportunity: what if supporters of causes could automatically retweet the tweets of the causes they support?  If Doctors Without Borders makes a big announcement while you are on a trans-Atlantic flight, JustCoz will spread it to your followers for you.  Automatically.

Noting that personally passed-along tweets are more likely to spread (note the asterisk), JustCoz believes that if we donate our tweets — actually, our idle Twitter time — we, collectively, can spread good rapidly and to orders of magnitude more people.   Whether this works, who knows; hopefully, it will.  But the important story here is that people — Pulver and his team — are taking pro-active steps to leverage social media to celebrate the good in this world.  I hope more people join that mission.